As part of the Google News Initiative (GNI), YouTube is launching the Sustainability Lab. Through this lab, YouTube and the GNI will work closely with news organizations around the world to accelerate innovative ideas related to financial sustainability for video news across three cohorts: advertising revenue, user revenue, and cost savings.
News organizations (Organizations) will be empowered to build, test, iterate on, and scale innovative proposals to improve the financial outcomes of video journalism for their newsrooms, while learning from and collaborating with other newsrooms around the world. The lab consists of three key components:
- Funding to execute proposals: Selected Organizations will receive $200,000 USD to execute their individual proposal related to the cohort.
- Cohort-based workshops to share learnings: Selected Organizations will be placed in a cohort of their peers (other Organizations) working on proposals related to the same sustainability theme: advertising revenue, user revenue, and cost savings. Each of the three cohorts will meet once a month to exchange ideas, share best practices, and strategize on common challenges. YouTube tech and business team members will facilitate these sessions, with the goal of helping newsrooms learn from each other as they tackle similar opportunities from different angles.
- Playbooks to scale best practices: At the conclusion of the year-long lab, selected Organizations will work with YouTube and the GNI to create a playbook of best practices for each cohort: advertising revenue, user revenue, and cost savings. The playbooks will be publicly available, scaling the learnings from each funded proposal and cohort to the broader news ecosystem.
YouTube will select Organizations for each of the three cohorts on an application basis. Organizations will submit proposals for a specific cohort; in other words, Organizations must submit an idea that is specifically focused on advertising revenue, user revenue, or cost savings. Organizations should be prepared to execute their proposals within the one-year timeframe and attend all cohort workshops.
[Note: This lab is not intended to fund content and such proposals will not be considered.]Apply Here
The Sustainability Lab will focus on projects that help drive financial sustainability for video news in three cohorts. Organizations must submit a proposal for a specific cohort.
Advertising Revenue:Read More Read Less
Projects in this cohort will explore opportunities to grow digital advertising revenue on video.Advertising Revenue:
Projects in this cohort will explore opportunities to grow digital advertising revenue on video. There are many ways to tackle this opportunity, and proposals can explore any of them -- whether it is changing the way video news content is packaged and sold to advertisers, exploring new partnerships, or something else entirely. The key question is broad: what could your organization do to drive a significant change in the amount of advertising revenue your news video content generates? Examples include:
- Helping print ad sales team expand to digital video with new equipment and training.
- Redesigning packaging and go-to-market strategy of video ads across platforms, including training sales team.
User Revenue:Read More Read Less
Projects in this cohort will explore how Organizations can drive revenue directly from users.User Revenue:
Projects in this cohort will explore how Organizations can drive revenue directly from users. This could take the form of subscriptions, one-time contributions, or something else entirely. Projects can create brand new business models, or if newsrooms already have membership, contribution, or subscription businesses, projects can explore how to meaningfully drive those existing initiatives with video. For this cohort, the key question is: how can your organization use video to directly increase revenue from user payments? Examples include:
- Creating a new channel membership program on YouTube.
- Developing a new tool to measure the value of the video audience at the “top of the funnel” for subscriptions.
- Experimenting with a one-time donation or contribution model on video.
Cost Savings:Read More Read Less
Projects in this cohort will create tools or models that reduce the costs associated with producing video news.Cost Savings:
Projects in this cohort will create tools or models that reduce the costs associated with producing video news. Projects might create a new technology that makes it easier for journalists to do their job, like verifying user-generated content, or they might help newsrooms with new approaches, equipment, and trainings that make workflows more efficient. If possible, new technologies should be developed to be open source and/or scalable to other newsrooms. The key question is: what can you do to make it less expensive and more efficient to make video news? Examples include:
- Creating a program to enable lower-cost, mobile journalism.
- Developing a new tool to verify and license user-generated video content.
- Developing new technology to quickly translate text articles or podcasts into video format.
The cohort descriptions and examples above are thought-starters; we encourage you to submit your own innovative proposal. All ideas are welcome, but proposals must align with one of these cohort themes above.
Please note that proposals should not be related to creating new, specific pieces of content, regardless of cohort.
Sustainability Lab Expectations
Organizations selected for cohorts will be expected to complete the following during the year-long lab:
- Individual project execution: Each news organization will be responsible for executing on their proposal. Organizations are expected to complete their projects within one year and reach all milestones outlined in the proposal in a timely way. YouTube will work with Organizations on formal status tracking for each project at least quarterly. Google reserves the right to withhold the second payment installment in whole or in part if an Organization fails to take material steps toward completion of its project after the first six months.
- Cohort-based workshop attendance: In addition, at least one representative from each Organization must attend a virtual or in-person monthly workshop with their cohort. Workshops will be facilitated by YouTube, and participants are expected to share updates, learnings, best practices, and advice with their peers in their cohort.
- Playbook contribution: Finally, Organizations will be asked to contribute to case studies and playbooks to scale learnings from the lab to the broader news ecosystem.
Google will fund $200,000 USD to selected projects, which will be paid in two equal installments as follows: one installment at the start of the contract term and the second installment six months thereafter, provided that the Organization is on track to complete its project. Organizations must reach the milestones outlined in their proposal to unlock the payments.
Organizations are expected to provide a detailed cost breakdown for their projects. Any costs above the $200,000 USD provided by the GNI must be funded by the Organization. Google will not provide additional funding for any costs above $200,000 USD.
Eligible expenses: Google funding may include in-kind expenses for engineering and operations costs (e.g., product development, project management, user experience design, database build, maintenance, and hosting), the purchase or licensing of any equipment, tools, hardware, software and other assets or materials needed for the project, training, and marketing & staffing expenses (only if directly relevant to the project and not the primary budget cost), etc. Line items are encouraged if relevant for each cost bucket. Please be as specific as possible.
Ineligible expenses: Editorial or content-related expenses are not eligible for Google funding and will not be covered. Funding may not be spent on general and overhead costs, nor may it be used to hire journalists or cover the production costs associated with a specific piece of video content. Only expenses incurred by Organization after the Organization and Google sign an agreement can be covered by the funding.
There will be one application window to submit proposals which will open on July 8, 2020 9:00 PT and close August 7th, 2020 23:59 PT. All applicants must accept the GNI YouTube Sustainability Lab Proposal Terms and Conditions.
Proposals will be reviewed by YouTube and the GNI. Selected Organizations must interview with the YouTube and GNI teams.
Selected Organizations will be notified no later than October 15th, 2020 23:59 PT.
Organizations submitting proposals should be publishers, broadcasters, digital natives, startups, NGOs, and industry organizations that produce original journalism and aim to educate citizens with trustworthy journalistic content. We welcome Organizations from all viewpoints to apply.
In order to be eligible to submit a proposal, Organizations must:
- Meet all three of the following criteria:
- Have greater than one million channel subscribers across all their YouTube news channels (i.e., can be aggregated across multiple channels),
- Upload news videos to their YouTube channel(s) at least 70% of days during the first six months of 2020, and
- be registered in the Google News Publisher Center
In addition to the criteria above, Organizations must be based in one of the following countries:
- Africa: Nigeria, South Africa
- Europe: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
- Asia-Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand
- North America: Canada, United States
- Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
Eligible Organizations may submit only one proposal for consideration. Organizations cannot apply for multiple cohorts or submit multiple proposals.
The purpose of the proposal is to outline a new idea, project, or model that would directly improve the financial sustainability of news video. Proposals should be submitted for one of the following cohorts: advertising revenue, user revenue, or cost savings. The main aspects of the proposal are:
- Organization information
- Project description: Organizations will be asked to submit several paragraphs describing the project. Organizations must show clear connection to the cohort (advertising revenue, user revenue, or cost savings) that they are applying for.
- Milestones: Organizations will be asked to submit milestones for their proposal. Each proposal should have a minimum of one milestone every other month during the year-long lab (October 2020-September 2021).
- Metrics: Organizations will be asked to submit the top three well-defined, measurable goals for their proposal.
- Budget: Organizations will be asked to submit detailed budgets for the $200,000 USD of funding available from YouTube and the GNI.
In addition to aligning with one of the cohorts above, proposals:
- Must be deliverable within one year. This does not mean projects need to be fully scaled within one year, but Organizations should be able to launch the proposal or a pilot during the year-long lab (October 2020-September 2021).
- Can be experimental in nature, but successful projects should be scalable.
- Should be submitted in English if possible, but may be submitted in the Organization’s local language as needed.
For clarity, proposals that are limited to the creation or publication of content OR without specific focus on financial sustainability are not eligible, including:
- Proposals about creating specific pieces of videos news content.
- Proposals to cover editorial expenses.
- Projects which reflect research without implementation.
- Projects which propose to hire new editorial staff.
Proposal Evaluation Criteria
Proposals will be evaluated against the following key criteria:
- Sustainability: Preferred proposals will demonstrate a plan for long-term financial sustainability. Proposals must show clear connection to the cohort theme of advertising revenue, user revenue, or cost savings.
- Scalability: Preferred proposals will generate valuable learnings that can be scaled to the broader news ecosystem via the lab playbooks.
- Innovation: Preferred proposals will exemplify innovative ideas and inspire other Organizations to think creatively about how to evolve their video business for future financial success.
The Sustainability Lab is a year-long, cohort-based program to accelerate innovative ideas related to financial sustainability for video news. Organizations may apply here for three cohorts: (1) advertising revenue, (2) user revenue, or (3) cost savings. Selected newsrooms will receive funding to build their idea and will participate in monthly cohort workshops with their peers working on similar projects. After the lab is completed, YouTube will share the learnings generated from the projects with the broader industry through playbooks.
The lab will run from October 2020 through September 2021.
YouTube and the GNI will provide:
- Funding: $200,000 USD to each selected Organization to execute their approved proposal
- Workshops: Facilitating monthly cohort meetings with other global Organizations working on similar projects
- Playbooks: Research on insights from projects and publication of learnings in playbooks and case studies
Selected Organizations are expected to:
- Project execution: Each Organization will be responsible for executing their proposal.
- Workshops: Each Organization is expected to send at least one representative to each monthly cohort workshop.
- Playbooks: Each Organization will be asked to contribute to case studies and playbooks from the lab to scale learnings from the lab to the broader news ecosystem.
Organizations submitting proposals should be publishers, broadcasters, digital natives, startups, NGOs, and industry Organizations that produce original journalism and aim to enlighten citizens with trustworthy journalistic content. Eligible applicants will demonstrate a scrupulous approach to journalistic practices, including but not limited to news-gathering, fact checking, objectivity, balance, and ethics. We welcome Organizations from all viewpoints to submit proposals.
For additional requirements, please see the Eligible Organizations section above.
Collaborations between Organizations (for example, a consortium of publishers, production companies and journalists) may be considered depending on the details of the proposal submitted. With collaborations, one Organization must be selected to submit the proposal on behalf of all collaborators in the group.
To be eligible, participant Organizations must already exist at the time of lab announcement and meet all other relevant criteria.
Each Organization may submit a maximum of one proposal. YouTube and the GNI are unlikely to fund more than one project per larger parent group or holding structure.
No, Organizations may submit only one proposal. Organizations should submit one proposal for one cohort. Additional proposals will not be considered.
Yes, Organizations must select one of the three cohorts and apply directly for that cohort. Proposals must be directly related to the selected cohort theme.
Proposals should be submitted for one of the three cohorts:
- Advertising revenue: what could your organization do to drive a significant change in the amount of advertising revenue your news video content generates?
- User revenue: how can your organization use video to directly increase revenue from user payments?
- Cost savings: what can your organization do to make video news less expensive and more efficient?
For more information on the cohorts, please see the cohort themes section above. Please note that this lab is not intended to fund video content production and such proposals will not be considered.
When submitting your proposal, please keep the funding guidelines above in mind.
No, the Sustainability Lab is not designed to fund video journalism content production. Such proposals will not be considered.
Yes, provided the project is related to one of the three cohorts. However, please note that the lab cannot support business as usual; proposals should be related to innovative or experimental initiatives, not day-to-day operations. Lab funding will only cover costs incurred after the date Google and the Organization enter into a formal agreement.
$200,000 USD per project.
Yes, participation is conditional on Organizations entering into an agreement with YouTube. This agreement will contain more details about eligible expenses, payment timelines, and other commitments.
Cohorts will gather for a monthly workshop with their cohort peers, as well as members of YouTube’s business and product teams. Participants will share project development, including any recent successes or learnings. The workshops will be facilitated by the YouTube team.
Yes. You may submit your proposal in your language, if you prefer. For the workshops, YouTube will arrange simultaneous interpretation.
Yes, participants should be willing to showcase the projects and learnings that result from the lab, including the publishing of public case studies to be shared with the wider news community.
There will be one application window opening on July 8, 2020 9:00 PT and closing August 7, 2020 23:59 PT. No proposals will be accepted after this date.
We may require additional information from you to properly assess your proposal. Finalists should expect to participate in an interview. We also may ask that you provide further supporting documentation. If you are unable to comply with such requests within the reasonable time frame requested by Google, your proposal will be rejected.
Take advantage of this time to document your proposal as thoroughly as possible, taking care to ensure eligibility criteria has been met and demonstrate a clear vision for the concept and execution of your project. When you are ready, please submit a proposal through the online form, as it cannot be saved for later revision.
If you need additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposals will be evaluated against the following key criteria:
Please see additional information in the proposal evaluation criteria section above.
Eligible proposals will move to a selection round where the strongest proposals will be shortlisted. The selection round will be conducted by a team composed of YouTube employees with expertise in news and the local markets. Finalists will then be asked to participate in an interview.
Final selection of proposals and funding is at Google/YouTube’s sole and absolute discretion. We do not guarantee that any proposal will be successful.
Due to the high volume of proposals expected, YouTube is unable to provide personalized feedback on each proposal. However, the best practices gained from this lab will be shared widely, providing all newsrooms the opportunity to learn and apply insights, as we work together to support the development of long-term, sustainable video businesses.
Select Google employees will review application responses consistent with the Proposal terms and conditions to evaluate submitted proposals.
The Sustainability Lab is designed to build on the successes and learnings of GNI YouTube Innovation Funding. With the new lab, we will continue to provide funding to newsrooms around the world, and we will introduce cohorts to enable news organizations to learn from each other and innovate together throughout the lab. We will also host monthly cohort workshops with YouTube tech and business teams. To learn more about Innovation Funding, please see case studies here.